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The London Workhouse: A Total Institution for the C18th? Peter Jones

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Presentation on theme: "The London Workhouse: A Total Institution for the C18th? Peter Jones"— Presentation transcript:

1 The London Workhouse: A Total Institution for the C18th? Peter Jones

2 Defining the Total Institution P. OBrien, The Promise of Punishment: Prisons in C19th France (1982) Sean McConville, A History of English Prison Administration (1981) Andrew Scull, Museums of Madness: the Social History of Insanity in C19th England (1981) M. A. Crowther, The Workhouse System (1981), …any attempt to reconstruct workhouse life must be a patchwork, selected from the letters and reminiscences of the literate poor, or gleaned from middle class accounts – Crowther, p.193 [The image of the workhouse] has been created by outsiders, who usually condemned it either for harshness or laxity – ibid.

3 The C18th London Workhouse c1800: 50 workhouses in the London metropolitan area Diverse institutions: between 10 and 1,000 inmates Diversity of experience: between 89% and 19% of parish poor relieved indoors In total, almost 12,000 of Londons inhabitants resident in workhouses in 1801

4 The Project The Workhouse in Jeremy Boulton, Leonard Schwarz, John Black

5 Admission and Residency

6 Pregnancy and Birth ,376 women heavily pregnant or in labour at admission Over 4,000 children born and baptised

7 Early Childhood 11,155 children <7 admitted 73% admitted with family member 2,230 died in the workhouse 20% within 14 days 91% within a year 1,188 were sent to nurse 206 bound apprentice

8 Adolescence Destination of Children (7-14yrs) Apprenticed Outside London County Number of Apprentices Manchester141 Lancashire40 Flintshire34 Hertfordshire32 Sheffield29 Staffordshire21 Yorkshire16 Cheshire10 Nottinghamshire8 Derbyshire8 Jamaica5 Kent4 Essex3 Worcestershire2 Durham2 Monmouth1 Huntingdonshire1 Hampshire1 Cumberland1 Berkshire1 7,515 children aged 7-14 admitted 3,376 (44.5%) entered with another family member 270 (3.5%) died in the workhouse 2,316 (30.5%) either bound apprentice or sent on likeing 80% apprenticed in London 20% further afield 50 sent to Hungerford School 8 boys sent to sea

9 Early Adulthood Women admitted to the workhouse aged Constitute 80% of all admissions in this age range 70.5% of all women admitted aged years are single independents Average length of stay = 111 days (216 for all admissions)

10 Old Age 11,023 Over-60s Admitted 36.5% died in workhouse Average length of stay = 431 days

11 Sickness

12 Death

13 To Conclude… …any attempt to reconstruct workhouse life must be a patchwork, selected from the letters and reminiscences of the literate poor, or gleaned from middle-class accounts… - Crowther, p.193 Ann Ashton, admitted November 1765, her husband paying 2s. 6d. for her keep Jane Graham, admitted October 1800, on condition that he husband pays 5s. per week Charlotte Sowley, admitted June 1795, aged 9, her father paying 3s. a week


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